Wherever the Road Leads

I Hate Computers, Rant #726

But the “Comments” section is fixed.

I recently came across a fantastic little device called a Raspberry Pi. It’s a ‘motherboard’, of sorts, the size of a credit card where you can hook up a keyboard, mouse and an HDMI cable. Insert a flash drive into its second USB port with a movie file on it and you can watch 1080p (HiDef) movies without having to burn them to a Blu-Ray disc, or having to have a Blu-Ray player.

Raspberry-PiThis little gadget costs about $45, plus the cost of the 4gb SD card – like the one in your camera – on which you load the custom (Linux) Operating System. That set up reminded me of the first computer I ever ran. There was no hard drive; there were two slots for a 5ΒΌ” floppy discs, one to load the DOS Operating System and the other to hold your data… letters, spreadsheets etc.

That was probably in about 1993… twenty years ago… and that is how long I have been loving computers. But I hate them with a passion.

Way back then I took a course on computers at Niagara College in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The instructor made a very good point of how brick-stupid computers are. He had a package of cigarettes in his pocket. He told the class to use commands like a computer to have him put a cigarette in his mouth and light it. We’re thinking, “He gets PAID for this?”

We told him, “Take the cigarette from your pocket and put it in your mouth.” He reached into his pocket, removed the whole pack and tried to jam it between his lips.

“No, no, just one, pull out just one,” we called out. He pulled out just one cigarette and stopped, looking at us.floppies150

“And put the cigarette in your mouth,” we ordered. He did… the whole cigarette completely into his mouth as commanded.

“No, no… between your lips.” He did as we requested, putting the tobacco end between his lips with the filter end facing us, the class.

“No, no, the other way round… filter end first,” we cried, understanding the point of the exercise. Computers are brick stupid. They do EXACTLY as they are told. If something goes wrong, almost always, it is Operator Error.

A while back, when all and sundry could post a comment on the blog, I was getting far too many Spam posts, mostly links for counterfeit brand-name watches, tennis shoes and even backpacks, so I disabled the comments.

The desire to make a response hasn’t been that great until my “Canadianisms” post, where a few people have made suggestions for additions or corrections. I decided to turn the comments back on and add software to confirm that you are a human and not a spammer. So, I have spent the last few hours doing everything conceivable to try to figure out how to turn the comments back on. Brick-stupid computers! For the life of me, I couldn’t make the comments visible again. I reverted to the older look of the Blog and that really messed things up.

I finally figured it out and, sure enough, it was Operator Error. In what some refer to as the “back end” – the .css and .php that makes the web page act the way it does – one obscure check box wasn’t. After two hours, one millisecond to perform one mouse click and the comment module is visible once again, for the more recent posts.

Many times I have tried to figure out the “words” in those ‘Captcha’ boxes and generally, I struggle with one of the words. The system I am starting out with makes you perform a simple match question to make sure you’re not trying to sell me a Rolex for $12.95. If that method is too simple for the spammers to work around, I may have to use the fake words that I have to squint to make out and then guess wrongly.

I recently volunteered to help out with the church bulletin, so I updated my skills in Adobe Indesign, a graphics layout program capable to producing books, newspapers, magazines and the humble church bulletin. I enjoyed it. I’ll probably order that little credit-card-sized motherboard and make a Media Center out of it, for fun. I really do enjoy computers.

I just hate them.

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  1. Rebecca Dewald  May 13, 2013

    Hmm,. does this love/hate relationship consume a lot of your time?

  2. Mike  May 13, 2013

    Gordon, my first computer class was the same thing. Our teacher said to instruct him on how to brush his teach and he will demonstrate how a computer works.
    We thought he was crazy and this was a waste of a class.

    Glad the comments are back up. Cant go to facebook from work to comment so i would always have something to say and i would just have to say it to myself.


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